Vietnam-India Continue to Cooperate in the South China Sea

Vietnam-India cooperation in the Bien Dong Sea (internationally called the South China Sea) is a strategic spearhead in the bilateral relationship, which is increasingly constrained, stemming from similar geostrategic, security and economic interests between the two countries.
September 05, 2022 | 18:09
Vietnam-India Continue to Cooperate in the South China Sea
The ceremony to welcome the Indian Navy fleet to visit Ho Chi Minh City from June 24-26, 2022. Photo: VNA

Vietnam and India have been connected for thousands of years, through trade and missionary activities from India to the Indochinese peninsula and vice versa.

Since 2016, the two countries have upgraded their relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, making India one of the three countries with the most comprehensive bilateral relationship with Vietnam.

Similar interests

India recognizes the importance of the Bien Dong Sea as an important connection route and its role in peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

Recently, India has adjusted its position in the Bien Dong Sea in the direction of interest and expressed the need to play a greater role. While remaining neutral in territorial and maritime disputes between countries in the region, India stated its stance on international law.

In 2018, speaking at the Shangri La Dialogue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India adheres to the principle of international law, that countries have equal access to the common sea and airspace. Freedom of navigation is unimpeded and mutually are resolved by peaceful means in accordance with international law.

In May 2020, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the Bien Dong Sea is part of the global common sea. India has an interest in maintaining peace and stability in the region, and supports freedom of navigation, unimpeded trade routes through the Bien Dong Sea in accordance with international law.

Vietnam-India Cooperation in Bien Dong Sea
Photo: quangnam.gov.vn

The Bien Dong Sea has both a sacred meaning in terms of sovereignty and security, and is especially important for Vietnam's development path.

Vietnam's Strategy for Sustainable Development of the Marine Economy to 2030, with a Vision to 2045, relevant engine of the marine economy as a growth of economy.

It also concerns the key task of resolutely fighting to protect the sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the Fatherland, especially in the context of complicated developments in the Bien Dong Sea, negotiating the sea in accordance with international law.

Comprehensive cooperation

India considers Vietnam a pillar of its Look East policy. Prime Minister Modi has promoted that Vietnam is India's top priority in relations with Southeast Asia.

In the need to diversify relations with other countries to protect its sovereignty, and security and promote development in the Bien Dong Sea, Vietnam determined that India meets the conditions to become a key partner in many fields. It is the foundation for strengthening the cooperation between Vietnam and India in the Bien Dong Sea.

The joint statements of the two countries in recent years have always shown the common vision of the two countries in terms of security protection and cooperation at sea.

Vietnam prioritizes introducing new oil and gas exploration areas to India and welcomes new investment projects by Indian companies in oil and gas projects in Vietnam.

Vietnam-India Joint Vision Statement for Peace, Prosperity, and People in December 2020 approved that the COC (Code of Conduct for the Bien Dong Sea) negotiation must be substantive and effective, without affecting the legitimate rights and interests of all the countries in the Bien Dong Sea, including non-negotiating countries.

The two sides also highlight the importance of finding new and substantive areas of cooperation to enhance capacity in marine economy, maritime security, marine environment, and sustainable use of marine resources to ensure security and growth for the whole region.

In marine economic development, Vietnam and India focus on cooperation in oil and gas exploration and production.

Bilateral cooperation between Vietnam and India in this field has been maintained and expanded through many agreements between the two governments over the past 10 years.

Vietnam-India Continue to Cooperate in the South China Sea
The ceremony for the project of building 12 high-speed patrol boats for the Vietnamese Border Guard at the Kattupalli shipyard in India on August 14, 2019. Photo: VNA

Vietnam-India cooperation at sea is also promoted in promoting frameworks. The two sides coordinated to promote the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership on maritime cooperation. They agreed to support each other and coordinate within mutual cooperation frameworks, especially ARF and ADMM+.

Vietnam-India cooperation in the Bien Dong Sea is a strategic spearhead in the bilateral relationship, which is increasingly constrained, stemming from similar geostrategic, security, and economic interests between the two countries.

It is a substantive relationship based on trust and traditional friendship, bringing into play the strengths of each side, and affirming the roles of India and Vietnam in a shaping order.

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